History created as Guyana invited to UEFA U-16 tournament in Moldova
In what is a definite first for Guyana, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) would in April be sending an Under-16 boys’ national squad to a UEFA-sponsored international youth tournament in Moldova, the landlocked Eastern European country that is sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania.
Three European national teams would be participating in that tournament.
In the unprecedented engagement, Guyana would face the hosts, whose senior men’s team has ranked as high as 37th in FIFA world rankings, as well as the mountainous principality of Andorra and the Faroe Islands in a round-robin tournament, which takes place between April 11 and 19.
“This is a truly historic moment for Guyanese football, that represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our young players and coaching staff to showcase their talent and gain invaluable exposure in Europe,” GFF President Wayne Forde has said.
“We are extremely grateful to UEFA Assist, Concacaf, and the Moldovan Football Association for including Guyanese youth in this unique, cross-cultural learning experience, building on our already very strong partnerships with UEFA and our own regional governing body.
“This experience will create lifelong memories for the squad, broaden horizons, and inspire a whole cohort of young players and coaches to strive to reach their full potential in football,” Forde added.
“We know that the boys and staff will make Guyana proud as ambassadors for our sport and nation, and leave an extremely positive impression on our European partners. This will put Guyanese football on the map in Europe, and open up connections and new opportunities for our young players, coaches and referees for many years to come.”
The exclusive invitation, which has been facilitated and fully supported by Concacaf, is a further sign of the strong relationship between the GFF and European football’s governing body, as part of the UEFA Assist programme.
This programme has seen UEFA’s assistance in the provision of two minibuses, ongoing collaboration in the development of a professional league, and capacity building and “return to play” planning.
“We are delighted to support the development of the Guyana Football Federation’s U-16 National Team,” said UEFA Head of International Relations, Eva Pasquier. “The opportunity to play in a European tournament, learn from and exchange with UEFA national associations, and experience new cultures will undoubtedly help these young stars to develop both on and off the pitch. And this is exactly what UEFA Assist is all about.”
Players, who must have been born on or after January 1, 2006 to make the U-16 squad, will be carefully selected in the coming weeks through an extensive talent identification process organised by the GFF’s Technical Department across the GFF’s nine regional associations and non-affiliated hinterland communities.
“While we will be looking to draw on existing talent from our national network of GFF Academy Training Centres, we also want to ensure that every player who should be considered for this incredible trip will be considered by our staff; so, we encourage our members, clubs and hinterland communities to participate fully in the talent identification sessions, which will be announced shortly,” said GFF Technical Director Ian Greenwood.
“We will then focus on an intense and holistic training regime to fully prepare our squad for the task ahead.”
The Moldovan tournament would also provide an excellent platform for preparation for the forthcoming Concacaf U-17 Championship qualifiers, which are scheduled for August.
The cost of the trip to Eastern Europe would be covered by UEFA Assist, a UEFA programme which seeks to develop football within and beyond Europe, with provision made for a 28-strong group to travel, including 20 players. Concacaf has played a significant role in facilitating UEFA Assist support projects for its members since the programme’s inception.
“Under the leadership of President Victor Montagliani, Concacaf is committed to working with, and supporting, all of our members to put football first and provide development opportunities which will truly benefit players and coaches across the region,” said Howard McIntosh, One Concacaf and Caribbean Projects Senior Manager.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Guyana Football Federation and its young players, and we commend President Forde and the GFF for their dedication to growing the game in Guyana and Concacaf.” (GFF)